The new season offers hope for Knicks and Nets fans

With the start of the NBA season just days away, fans of the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks have a lot to look forward to. From bright young talent to high expectations for the teams’ stars, here are some key predictions for the 2023-2024 season.

The Nets are entering their first full season removed from the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era. After Irving abruptly requested a trade midway through last season and Durant quickly followed, this broke the hearts of many fans with NBA Finals hopes. However, the aftermath left the team far from a total rebuild, with many promising pieces and a few all-star caliber players.

It’s fair to predict that both of these teams will finish above .500 with a decent chance of making it past the first round of the playoffs.

The obvious player to look out for is guard/forward Mikal Bridges, whose mid-range, three-point and off-the-dribble shooting abilities make him a dangerous player to guard. In 27 games played with the Nets, Bridges averaged 26 points per game with a field goal percentage of just under 50 percent.

Fans will also be eagerly watching Cam Johnson, who has a similar game while being an even deadlier three-point threat. A standout in the frontcourt is sure to be fan-favorite Nic Claxton, who has been improving every year of his young career and was mentioned in Defensive Player of the Year conversations last season.

A few Nets players are about to enter their make-or-break years. Former All-Star Ben Simmons has largely been a disappointment for the team, never reaching the same dominance he had with the Philadelphia 76ers after struggling with injury. While the Nets organization has shown confidence in him, Simmons has to prove that he can be a difference-maker this season by being more aggressive and confident at the rim.

Another player in the same boat is Cam Thomas. The 22-year-old had an incredible stretch last season where he scored 40 points in three consecutive games but has struggled to maintain consistency long-term. Part of the responsibility this season is on head coach Jacque Vaughn to give Thomas his deserved playing time, but Thomas also needs to show he can be a consistent performer day-to-day.

A final player to look out for in Brooklyn is one of their offseason pickups, Lonnie Walker IV. Walker was a huge factor for the Lakers in their playoff run last season, and hopefully he can have this same effect for the Nets off the bench this season.

The Nets hope all of these pieces can help them break through the first round of the playoffs. A big decider for whether they can make this run or not is if they can curb their overreliance on threes and become more of a threat in the paint. The Nets will need to play true team basketball and utilize their chemistry if they want to have a productive season.

The Knicks are similar in their young talent and energetic fanbase, who are hungry for a deep playoff run. Head coach Tom Thibodeau, about to enter his fourth year coaching the Knicks, is the longest-tenured coach they’ve had since Mike D’Antoni. Thibodeau is one of the most instrumental pieces in this fiery and hard-fighting Knicks team.

All eyes will certainly be on guard Jalen Brunson, who has had a meteoric rise over the past couple of years. He was the perfect fit for the Knicks when he signed a four-year, $104 million deal in 2022. His bullseye mid-range jumper and ability to facilitate the team’s offense make him one of their biggest factors going into this season.

The Knicks’ secret weapon is undoubtedly their team chemistry. The team has four players, including Brunson, who were a part of the 2016 NCAA Championship-winning Villanova Wildcats. Donte DiVincenzo, one of their offseason Villanova-alumni pickups, is sure to be a difference-maker. DiVincenzo shot a very respectable 40 percent from three-point range last season with the Warriors, which the Knicks will welcome with open arms.

With no true superstars on the Knicks – albeit great stars in Julius Randle and Brunson – it’s truly the team’s kinship that drives them forward. This, paired with the passionate fanbase and unmatched energy of Madison Square Garden, makes the Knicks an exciting team to watch.

It’s fair to predict that both of these teams will finish above .500 with a decent chance of making it past the first round of the playoffs. Despite the absence of superstar players and NBA Finals expectations, both Nets and Knicks fans will not be let down this season.

Featured photo courtesy of @nyknicks, X